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Steaua silence Vardar in Skopje

FK Vardar 1-2 FC Steaua Bucureşti (agg: 1-5)
There was no miracle in Skopje as the Romanian champions set up a third qualifying round meeting with FC Dinamo Tbilisi.

Steaua eased through with a second victory in the tie against Vardar
Steaua eased through with a second victory in the tie against Vardar ©FK Vardar

FC Steaua Bucureşti set up a UEFA Champions League third qualifying round meeting with FC Dinamo Tbilisi with a minimum of fuss, overcoming FK Vardar 2-1 in Skopje.

Already 3-0 up from the first leg, Steaua showed no sign of losing their grip on the tie, with goals from Federico Piovaccari and captain Alexandru Bourceanu wrapping up victory, though Jovan Kostovski's header on the stroke of half-time gave the home fans in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia something to celebrate.

Piovaccari fired just over on the half-volley early on but any faults on his range-finder had been fixed by the 23rd minute when he gave Steaua the lead, tucking the ball away from close range after a great ball from Nicolae Stanciu. The Italian striker would have doubled his tally inside half an hour had Vardar goalkeeper Igor Pavlović not got behind his shot from ten metres.

Pavlović kept his side in the game again on 36 minutes, saving at the second attempt from Stanciu after the initial effort had hit the frame of the goal. Indeed, for a while it seemed that intervention might be significant, because Kostovski nodded in an equaliser moments before the interval from Jorge Giménez’s delivery.

Kostovski headed narrowly off target five minutes after the restart too, and Aco Stojkov drew a decent stop from Steaua goalkeeper Ciprian Tătăruşanu close to the hour mark, only for Romania's champions to move up a gear to restore their advantage. Adrian Popa picked out Bourceanu in the box, with the skipper finishing calmly. It might have ended worse for Vardar, had Stanciu's attempt in the 82nd minute not hit the post.